Lionel Messi was looking for privacy, luxury and space in his hunt for a home in South Florida.
The soccer superstar found it in Bay Colony, a waterfront community in Fort Lauderdale, where he and his wife paid nearly $11 million for a mansion at 91 Compass Lane. The neighborhood is one of the few in the area — if not the only — that’s gated with private round-the-clock security, according to brokers.
“Other communities are gated, but they don’t have the 24-hour security,” said Karen Bellows, an agent with Florida Luxurious Properties who is listing a nearby home at 30 South Compass Drive for $8 million. “Some of the other neighborhoods that have some of these high-end homes, they are trying to match the security [of Bay Colony].”
Messi’s 10,500-square-foot mansion, with eight bedrooms and nine and a half bathrooms, includes a 1,600-square-foot primary suite. It sits on a point lot with two docks and a pool. The property’s 170 feet of water frontage and deep water dockage mean Messi will likely be looking for a yacht to rent or purchase — if he doesn’t have one already.
He’s not the first celebrity to call the neighborhood home: The late fast food giants Dave Thomas and Ray Kroc both lived in Bay Colony. But Messi is definitely the biggest.
“Bay Colony was always an understated neighborhood,” said Keyes Company agent Lauren Dekok, who is listing a home in the nearby town of Sea Ranch Lakes, where Messi’s longtime teammate Sergio Busquets recently bought a home for $8.7 million.
Robert Esposito, director of sales at RelatedISG Realty, said Messi’s purchase will put the area “on the map.”
Messi’s arrival in South Florida created a frenzy this summer, with paparazzi tailing him as he toured homes in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Photos of him grocery shopping went viral. Messi’s deal with the Mas brothers’ Inter Miami Major League Soccer team is valued between $50 million and $60 million. He also received equity in the team and inked revenue sharing agreements with Adidas, Apple and other companies.
Messi, Esposito said, probably chose Fort Lauderdale so his family “could live a more normal, quiet life.” Luxury homes in Broward County are generally less expensive than those in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, but home prices have been on the rise.
“I see [prices] going up further because there is even more demand for these private communities now,” said Chad Carroll, a top broker at Compass who focuses on Fort Lauderdale. Carroll said the Bay Colony neighborhood competes with Sea Ranch Lakes.
Messi and his family are also close to Drive Pink Stadium and Inter Miami’s adjacent training facility in Fort Lauderdale, and the prestigious Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, where his children may be enrolled.
“Obviously you’re close to the schools and the stadium, but it offers larger estates” than Sea Ranch Lakes, Carroll added.
Bay Colony is home to about 100 lots, all of which are waterfront. In 2021, author and social media influencer Patrick Bet-David set a record in the neighborhood with his $20.4 million purchase of the mansion at 141 Bay Colony Drive.
Just four single-family homes are on the market, ranging from $4 million to nearly $9 million. The other listings are lots and condos.
Hedy Tufo, an agent with Douglas Elliman, also emphasized Bay Colony’s security. She is listing the home she shares with her husband at 40 North Compass Drive, which is the priciest property on the market in Bay Colony, at $9 million.
“They’re very, very tough about who comes in and out,” she said. “If you want to gain access, you either have to speak to the homeowner or have to be on the permanent list. There is no getting in and out. There is no driving around the neighborhood.”